A member of a Facebook group I belong to posed a question about fears to do with speaking.
Things like fear of forgetting what you were saying, fear of being judged, fear of being misunderstood, fear of failure and fear of success.
The list consisted of well over a dozen fears. This got me thinking about my nearly 25 year speaking career.
As an expert who speaks as a way to influence, inspire, enroll clients into consulting programs and sell books and information products, I would be doing myself, and my market, a huge disservice if I let fear hold me back from getting on the platform.
Not so Fast Bucko!
Prior to embracing my desire to become a speaker, fear stopped me from getting on the platform.
My greatest fear was making a fool of myself. Fear of failing on the platform was also ever looming. There were others, but these were the biggest fears. Yet, I made a decision not to let fear hold me back.
Simply making the decision to speak did not miraculously remove all fear. Nope, I had to work through the fear by working at the craft of speaking.
Fast forward to today… Fear of failure and/or success is nonexistent at this point. Maybe it’s age… maybe experience… maybe I’ve dealt with these fears, but they simply don’t enter my realm of thinking.
However, being a professional speaker for so many years, I’ve had the opportunity to work through a wide variety of fears.
Plenty of Time For Mistakes
In 25 years, I’ve had plenty of things go wrong while speaking. Windows breaking, electricity shutting down, people falling asleep, people walking out, a group of drunk tow truck drivers (they were off the clock) booing me and yelling, “Get that woman off the stage,” having the flu so bad I had to leave the room several times throughout the day long workshop and on and on.
I’ve also had standing ovations, people tell me I’ve changed their lives, people who enrolled in my private programs because of what they heard while I spoke and I’ve made incredible money on the platform.
Good Outweighs Bad
The good outweighs the bad. No two ways about it. Especially being able to inspire people. I’m very clear that my purpose while on the platform is to help audience members have a shift in perception, look at their own limiting thoughts, and be inspired to do what they are in this life to do… whatever that may be.
7 Ways to Get Through the Fear of Speaking
1. Determine what you’re really afraid of
Often, fear resides more in our imagination than in reality. What are you actually afraid of? Once you are aware of the cause, you can do something about it.
No two ways about it, practice helps to minimize fear. I’ve talked to inexperienced speakers who say, “I like winging it.” Amateurs wing it. Professionals respect their audience enough to practice. This does not mean you need to memorize your talk, but put effort into making it the best it can be.
Granted, the more years of speaking you have under your belt, the less time you need to put into practice. Yet, practice is a great practice.
3. Join Toastmasters
Toastmasters is an outstanding organization for those who want to sharpen their leadership, speaking, presentation and communication skills. There are groups, called clubs, all over the world. I went to my first Toastmasters meeting in 1993. I got the bug to speak from that point forward. There was no going back.
4. Surround yourself with a peer group of speakers
There’s nothing quite like hanging out with people who have similar interests as you. Regardless of what your interest is, finding like-minded people you can surround yourself with can only help you to improve. In addition, when fear shows up, you have people to talk to who will do more than say, “You need to get over it.” They will likely say, “Let’s look at what’s causing the fear and what you can do to get to the other side of fear.
5. Learn from experts
If you really want to stretch yourself, learn from speakers who are considered experts in speaking. Why? Because it’s likely you’ll discover the very thing you are going through, they did too. The main difference between the experts and everyone else is this; experts stuck with it… in spite of, or maybe because of, fear.
6. Speak … and then speak some more
The best way to get through the fear of anything is to do it again and again and again. Speaking is no different. The better you get, the less likely you will have the kind of fear that is designed by your EGO to quit. Don’t do it. Keep going. Learn and know this; there are those who need to hear your message.
7. Accept you will never meet everyone’s approval
This one is HUGE! Some people erroneously believe that if they just try hard enough, everyone will approve of what they say, their speaking style and their philosophy. I’m here to tell you, you will meet with those who want nothing to do with hearing you and those who will travel long distances to hear your talk. If you are true to who you are, you will likely create a community of people who really appreciate what you do.
Fear is Ready to Rear Its Ugly Head
In 2018, I’ll be traveling around to promote my memoir. If I were to say I have no fear about this, I would be lying. My book is a big reveal of many things that will surprise, amuse, shock, and inspire readers and audience members.
Yet, the main message of my book is this; no matter where you’ve been, you don’t have to stay there. No matter what has stopped you, you can change your life for the better.
I long ago learned, I can play it safe and not do things I’m afraid of, thus never knowing what my full potential is.
Or… I can deal with the fear head-on and be amazed at what is possible in one person’s lifetime.
The choice is mine. The choice is yours.
What will you choose?
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